Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art making financial progress

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After enduring a crisis last year, the financial picture of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art is improving.

Executive director, Denny Mecham, says the museum is "on budget" and looking forward to a busy summer season.

She's also counting down the days until the opening of a new building on the campus.

"That brick plaza will fully connect, right to the doors here," said the director, as she gave a tour of the newest building under construction.

The tallest building on the museum campus is just two weeks away from completion. The four story Center for Ceramics is nearly 12,000 square feet.

"A settling tank and sinks are on this side. Glaze room in the back. And our resident artist or visiting artist will have a special space here, up toward the front," said Mecham, as she pointed to the spacious main room just inside the front entrance.

Four kilns will be housed in equipment bays on the west end of the main structure.

"This is an incredible and very unique studio working space. I've been in a lot of clay studios across the country. And I think this one is very special," she said.

The upper floors offer incredible views and fulfill architect Frank Gehry's vision of a museum that "dances among the trees".

"The trees and the moss are coming back. And you really get a sense of what Frank Gehry was thinking as he integrated all these wonderful and odd shapes," Director Mecham says.

As the final construction takes shape, the museum's financial picture is also stabilizing.

"A lot of it was surviving that first year under kind of a political fire storm. But we feel very good that things have been resolved. That we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. I actually think that we cleared a major hurdle," she said.

Director Mecham expects a boost in the museum's image and visitorship once all the building is finally complete and the last of the construction fence comes down.

"So that's why we are so excited to have that building almost completed. It will make a huge difference," said Mecham.

Since its opening, the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art has welcomed visitors from all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries.

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